This was a set departure tour. Guided by Trevor Ellery.
Israel has long been established as a major world hotspot for European birders to witness the extraordinary diversity and concentrations of birds that the country experiences, due to its geographical position, where it has avian influences from Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. It is also famed for its dramatic migrations of birds in this season, where resident species mix with large numbers of migrant birds. For example, we saw desert specialties like MacQueen’s Bustard, Spotted Sandgrouse, Egyptian and Nubian Nightjars, White-eyed Gulls, and Western Rock Nuthatch, Mourning and Hooded Wheatears, along with hundreds of wintering cranes, and a diverse selection of other migrants, like Black Stork Imperial Eagle, and Pallid Harrier. Being a modern country, this was all experienced in comfort. The simple fact is Israel is very birdy, and there is rarely a moment without birds front line and center. For this reason, many European birders frequently return to Israel, some even having it on their annual calendar of must visit places, as there is simply so much to take in on a single visit, and so much variation even within and between spring seasons on what it is around from day-to-day, week-to-week, and year-to-year. Although this was Tropical Birding’s inaugural Israel tour, the guide Trevor Ellery had previously lived, birded and guided there between 1998 and 2001, so it was something of a trip down memory lane for him! While Israel frequently makes the international news due to ongoing tensions within the country, such problems are generally concentrated around specific flashpoints and much of the rest of the country is calm, peaceful, clean and modern. Of course, these are the areas we focused on, which just so happens to be where the best birds are too.